With the gradual growth of local cinema, we were introduced to several fresh faces last year, from Janaan’s Bilal Ashraf and Armeena Khan to Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai’s Feroze Khan and Sajal Aly. 2017 seems like a promising year for our film fraternity, as a number of potential hit films are underway. Instep caught up with four up-and-coming actors who are all geared up to make it big with their sheer talent and star presence.
Haroon Shahid and his band-mates from Symt parted ways last year and he appeared solo alongside Quratulain Baloch in Coke Studio’s 9th season. Shahid has now joined the singer-turned-actor bandwagon as he is featuring in Shoaib Mansoor’s highly anticipated film, Verna opposite the lovely Mahira Khan.
“I have become a lot more reaffirmed. I have realized that not everybody can act and the whole process requires a lot of hard work; you can’t do it just for the sake of it,” he shared. His debut film will be shot entirely in the northern region of Pakistan and will enter its last leg of shooting in a week’s time. Shahid had also been approached for Bol, but things couldn’t materialize and Atif Aslam bagged the role instead.
“Shoaib Sahab asked me to prepare for the film before roping me in; hence I’ve been mentally preparing myself for a while now. I feel it’s huge that I’m playing an integral part in the film thus there is a lot of pressure on my shoulders as well,” he stated. “Shoaib Sahab believes in showcasing a very normal and honest opinion of human lives and that’s why we connect more with his work. He takes a script and looks at people around him who are the way they are. There isn’t much acting to do, according to him; I am playing a role that I can portray by being myself.”
Shahid called Mansoor his “mentor” and also revealed that it’s a delight to work alongside the Raees actress. “Working with Mahira, I can bounce off the energy and perform better. She is somebody who walks you through the entire process and tutors you throughout. It’s a very serious film, yet the moment the camera goes off, it’s a very fun set to be on,” he revealed.
While the actor believes that he has developed an interest in acting, he will soon return to music post the completion of the film’s shoot as he has also been involved in Verna’s soundtrack and will be collaborating with Zeb Bangash on one of the tracks.
“Acting has become a passion, but only my performance will tell whether I should go ahead and pursue acting. I haven’t seen the film obviously, but when I do, I’ll know better where I stand,” he concluded.
Sarish Khan has talent running through her veins as she happens to be the granddaughter of two cinematic icons, Santosh Kumar and Sabiha Khanum. The actress, who won the ‘Miss Pakistan USA’ pageant in 2015, has signed Amin Iqbal’s rom-com Rehbra, starring Ahsan Khan and Ayesha Omar, and will also be taking the lead in Syed Noor’s romantic-musical, Chein Aye Na alongside Shahroz Sabzwari and veteran actors, Nadeem Baig, Atiqa Odho, Behroze Sabzwari and Mustafa Qureshi.
“I get to hear that all the time, it’s just something that I’ve grown up with,” the starlet responded when asked if she has ever been accused of nepotism due to her family’s connection with the industry. “However, I take it more as a challenge. I don’t think it overshadows my talent; in fact it encourages and motivates me since I have such amazing role models to look up to.”
Chein Aye Na has all the ingredients to make up for a decent watch, but the director, Syed Noor, belongs to an era that saw the decline of local cinema back in the nineties. However, Khan begs to differ and considers herself lucky to be working with experienced filmmakers.
“There’s no replacement for experience and Noor Uncle knows his job very well. He doesn’t fit his actors in a box and is flexible with our own individual creativity. I think that will translate on-screen,” the former model revealed. “He’s open to new ideas, is very progressive and understands that change is the only constant in life.”
As far as Rehbra is concerned, Sarish is happy playing the second lead. “What matters to me is how well I can relate to a certain character. At this given time, with my experience and background, I don’t think I could have done justice to Ayesha Omar’s part if it had been offered to me,” she observed honestly. “I would love to play such a character in the future.”
Other than focusing on her acting career, Khan plans to put her studies to use by getting herself a law license in Sindh. She also plans on continuing her humanitarian work with an organization that she has been associated with for over eight years which works to make women financially independent in the rural areas of Pakistan.
Ahad Raza Mir
Son of veteran actor and producer Asif Raza Mir and grandson of filmmaker Raza Mir (late), Ahad Raza Mir’s turn to showbiz was only natural. The actor, who first appeared on television when he was merely 14 years old believes that the acting bug has bitten him for as long as he can recall. After moving to Canada in his mid-teens, Ahad ended up proving his mettle by working in theatrical productions for two years and also ended up becoming the first Pakistani to win the ‘Best Actor (Critics)’ award for a musical in Canada, where he also received an academic degree in drama.
“My father is who he is, but the decision of moving back to Pakistan and pursuing acting was all mine,” he says of being a star kid and professionally taking up acting in Pakistan. “I also believe that the pressure will be there no matter what I do. It does help to have my father in the same industry, but only to a certain extent; it will be rather tough to carry the family legacy forward and holding my own and proving myself.”
Ahad has bagged two major television serials: Sammi by Saife Hasan alongside an ensemble star cast of Mawra Hocane, Adnan Siddiqui and Bilal Khan and Shahzad Kashmiri’s Woh Yaqeen Ka Naya Safar as the male lead opposite Sajal Aly. However, what made him reach headlines was when he replaced Osman Khalid Butt in Haseeb Hasan’s directorial, Parwaaz Hay Junoon that pays homage to the Pakistani Air Force, narrating the story of a group of cadets, with co-stars Hamza Ali Abbasi and Hania Aamir.
“Momina Duraid has followed my career closely for the longest time. I was in Canada when she called me to offer the part. The goal has been to do a film since I was very young, and so I knew that I had to pack my bags and come to Pakistan right away,” he told Instep. “It was surreal to be on the sets of a film. It is something I have always dreamed about. I also had trouble managing myself, since we also shot with such senior actors like Rasheed Naz, so there was some intimidation too,” he laughed.
Apart from his highly anticipated acting assignments, Ahad is also collaborating with his father’s production house and is in the process of developing two feature films – a comedy and an epic love story that are slated to begin by the end of this year.
Ghana Ali is on her way to proving herself as an asset to the entertainment industry as she continues to take up challenging roles that polish her acting prowess. The budding actress first appeared in Piya Mann Bhae more than a year ago and has had a terrific year with a number of television hits, namely Sangdil, Besharam and the ongoing Saya-e-Deewar Bhi Nahi.
Ali has also been quick to turn to films as she will be seen playing a supporting role in the Urwa Hocane, Bilal Ashraf and Gohar Rasheed starrer Rangreza – an intense romance-musical narrating an “unusual love triangle.” However, much to our surprise, Ali will also be seen playing the second lead opposite Adeel Chaudhry in the conventional romantic-comedy, Maan Jao Na that also stars Asif Raza Mir, Ayaz Samoo, Asma Abbas and a surprise international star.
“It happened all of a sudden. Initially, I wasn’t really sure since I’ve always wanted to do different characters where I have some margin to perform and explore myself as an actor,” she explained. “Screen space isn’t a concern either; the goal is to be able to prove myself as a performer. It would be incorrect if I said I don’t want to become a star, but it’s unfortunate that people tend to typecast actors, giving preference to commercial value over one’s acting abilities and I don’t want to make that mistake,” she said.
Ali will conclude shooting for both her cinematic endeavors by early summer but has also begun shooting for the sequel of the 2002 serial, Landa Bazaar directed by seasoned writer Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar. She will also play the female lead in Nauman Ijaz and Gohar Rasheed starrer Maidaan. All in all, it won’t be incorrect to say that Ali has her plate full.
When asked about whether it was a conscious decision to take up multiple projects, Ali explained, “I truly believe that when opportunities knock on your door, you must have complete faith in yourself and answer.” She added, “It’s become very easy to hit the elite audience in the social media generation that we live in; I want to become an artist who caters to all audiences, including the masses.”